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Understanding breast cancer

Deepika Rathod

We are now in the month of October and that means we are close to the end of the year. October is not only famous for its heat but also because it is celebrated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Over the years we have learnt that the early signs of breast cancer can be any of these – a lump in a breast, tenderness in breasts or a painful breast or armpit, etc. However these symptoms do not necessarily mean one is suffering from cancer as these could be symptoms that surface due to hormonal imbalance, particularly before or after a period, or when one is suffering from a deficiency of vitamins and minerals (vitamin E).

Often pain or a lump in breast can be perfectly harmless or the pain can be a sign of a cyst or lump which can be benign too. So before jumping to conclusions it’s always better to get checked on different blood parameters.

Usually breast cancer either starts developing in the cells of the milk-producing glands or in the ducts (the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple). Less commonly, breast cancer can develop in the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast. Coming to the lymphatic system that drains cellular waste from the body, over time if the cancer cells go undetected they can invade healthy breast tissue and make their way into the underarm lymph nodes (this depends on the stage and severity). If cancer cells get into the lymph nodes they then have access to an easy pathway which enters other parts of the body. The toxins that build up in the lymphatic system affect the energy balance of the cells which in turn results in mutation and uncontrollable division of cancer cells.

Although this sounds scary there are various steps that one can follow to help the body stay healthy. These steps include eating a balanced diet, maintaining healthy weight, not smoking, limiting or avoiding alcohol, staying mentally and emotionally strong and exercising regularly or at least staying active.

In the next articles we shall discuss cancer in detail in order to create more awareness towards this disease.

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